Learning to read and becoming a fluent reader is a struggle for many children. While some students might receive additional intervention or assistance through programs at school, others will struggle in silence. Their difficulties may go unnoticed or these struggles might not be severe enough to warrant additional help.
Parents can provide at-home intervention and enrichment when it isn’t readily available in the classroom. Reading apps might vary in design, but most are accessible and inexpensive learning tools. However, not all apps will provide the guidance that children need. The best app to help reading should engage children in learning and in the reading journey.
When searching for the best app to help reading, look for these features:
- Interactive content
- Multi-sensory learning
- Leveled and age-appropriate stories
- A tool to measure progress
- Vocabulary skills review
The Guide to Choosing the Best App to Help Reading
Parents can find reading apps via Google Play or the App Store. However, a simple search for reading apps will result in an extensive list of options. Parents might get overwhelmed by the choices.
To find the best apps for a child’s struggles, parents should try to focus on their child’s particular learning needs and reading struggles. Look for apps that focus on comprehension or on phonics, fluency or decoding skills.
Some apps for reading are designed as games. Parents can find alphabet games or games related to sight words, too. For younger children who need help with these skills, game-based apps could be an entertaining option.
Parents who need an app that offers a lessons-based approach to reading, though, might need to dig a little deeper. Instead of searching for apps via a phone or tablet, use an online search engine (like Google) to find the best apps to help with reading.
These apps might be a bit more expensive. Parents typically need to download the app and then explore the subscription options. A reading app that offers guided instruction could bill monthly, or subscriptions might be set up in a tiered structure.
Before paying for the app or committing to a subscription, parents might want to consider a free trial. Many programs (including Readability) offer a free trial period that lets parents and their child explore all the features of the program.
When touring the programs via a free trial, here are the key features that could be the most beneficial:
Interactive content allows children to explore stories beyond just the words or the lesson. Interactive features can include different designs and structure; every app might offer its own unique interactions within stories.
Readability, for example, lets children tap a word in any story to hear the definition or to hear the word used in a sentence. This helps children become familiar with words they don’t know and expand their vocabulary.
Some children are visual learners, but others are auditory learners. Does the reading program cater to a child’s unique learning style? Does the program provide multi-sensory learning options?
There are four main learning styles: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic (touch). A child may favor one of these particular methods.
With Readability, children read stories aloud. The program includes a built-in AI tutor that learns the child’s voice; the tutor can identify when a child is struggling and offers help when needed. The tutor provides auditory feedback to help the child.
In addition, visual learners who gain understanding through pictures will enjoy the colorful illustrations that help visually narrate the story. Readability also includes a Storytime feature that lets children listen to their favorite Readability stories.
What about kinesthetic learners? With Readability, children can explore by touch, too. They can tap a word to hear its meaning and hear it used in a sentence. Readability encourages children to explore and immerse themselves in the reading journey. All these tools provide multi-sensory learning options for children and their individualized learning style.
Leveled and Age-Appropriate Stories
Children might struggle to read at the same level as their peers, but this doesn’t mean they want to read books designed and written for a child much younger. When parents are exploring a program via a free trial, they should explore the books that are offered on the app.
High/low books are books that are written for the child’s age and interest and for their appropriate reading level. The ‘high’ refers to high interest, while the low refers to low reading level.
Readability includes books that engage a child’s interest and that are written at the appropriate reading level. Those using Readability can read fun fiction stories and non-fiction books about favorite sports stars, too.
A Tool that Measures Progress
When parents consider paying for a reading program, they will want to be able to monitor their child’s progress to better understand if the program is helping their child succeed and gain fluency.
Explore the tools for parents that are offered by a reading program. For example, Readability provides parents with their own portal called the Progress Dashboard or Parent Dashboard.
Only parents have access to this portal, and the Dashboard shows all the child’s reading data. Parents can review their child’s reading level, fluency (measured in words read per minute), comprehension and how long the child used Readability.
In addition, Readability also lets parents collate the data into a report that can be sent to the child’s teacher. This feature helps facilitate communication between the school and home.
Vocabulary Skills Review
The reading journey often includes seeing and/or hearing words that are unfamiliar. Does the reading program aid a child’s vocabulary mastery? It should!
All stories via Readability include a vocabulary list. Children also can tap any word within the story to hear the definition or hear it used in a sentence.
All the vocabulary words—including those discovered in a story—become part of a child’s word bank. They can review all their vocabulary words again and again to better facilitate mastery and understanding.
Reading Programs and Accelerated Reader
A child who uses a reading program to gain fluency and confidence might be reading many books in that app-based structure. This reading can count towards a child’s daily reading minutes, but parents also might wonder if any of the books in a program also are included in a popular classroom-based program: Accelerated Reader.
Many school districts use Accelerated Reader in their classrooms. This program offers quizzes that the child takes after they finish reading a book. Accelerated Reader quizzes help teachers better understand a child’s mastery of comprehension. Children earn points when they score a certain percentile on quizzes, and some teachers offer prizes at specific point levels.
Are the books or stories offered on the program also available via Accelerated Reader? Children might be more motivated to read stories and use the reading app if they can take quizzes and earn points in the classroom.
Stories and books via Readability are included on Accelerated Reader. After children read a book in Readability, they can take the quiz at school and earn points. In this way, Readability helps link the child’s reading engagement with the app with their classroom reading journey.
Parents who are researching the best reading app to help reading can explore Readability with their child. Sign up for a free trial today!